The Pentagon’s report was sent back earlier this year for revisions to broaden its scope, according to a Department official.
But so far, none of the reports has been released, preventing a public accounting of the administration’s decision-making and execution, particularly in the conflict’s final days.
The results of these internal reviews are politically fraught as midterm elections approach in November. President Biden has faced bipartisan criticism from Congress for his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, as well as from within national security circles, including some in the military.
Seth Jones, a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, said he hoped the need to keep some material classified wouldn’t get in the way of accountability and some form of public release.
“If the government takes stuff out because it’s politically damaging, that would be a big problem,” said Mr. Jones, a former military adviser in Afghanistan.
The U.S. withdrew all its forces Aug. 30, leading to a tumultuous end to the 20-year conflict. Afghans and others who had assisted the U.S. over the years overwhelmed the airport in Kabul, and while thousands got out, many were left behind after the Western-backed government fell faster than any officials believed it would.
An initial draft of the Pentagon’s assessment, completed by authors affiliated with National Defense University, was submitted in March.
That assessment was critical of some of the Pentagon’s own leadership, according to individuals familiar with that version of the report, which focused only on the last 18 months of the Afghanistan war.
Top officials then asked for the report to be revised to reflect volumes of additional information and data, and to expand the scope of the report beyond the initial assessment, according to a senior defense official. A new draft was resubmitted in recent days, but officials said it wasn’t clear when the report would be complete.